Labib al Nahhas, who titles himself as “Chief of Foreign Political Relations at Ahrar al-Sham,” arrived in the US capital for a visit lasting a few days back in December of 2015. Nahhas is a Syrian militant shielded from the UN terror list by the US, even though he has confirmed links to ISIS and Al-Qaeda. He reportedly entered the U.S. with a European passport no problem.
Nahhas arrived in the US to speak with “third parties,” even though he would not elaborate further or define what he meant by this. He has been using his European roots to contact western officials on behalf of Ahrar al-Sham, a group which promotes a strict Salafist form of Sunni Islam and has fought in alliances with Al-Qaeda-linked fighters. The group was involved in an attack this month on an Alawite Syrian village where they killed men, women and children.
State Department’s spokesperson Mark Toner was asked by reporters whether US officials were aware of Nahhas’ visit in December. He suggested his office had no knowledge or any idea about the visit. “I’m not sure that we were aware of it,” Toner replied. “I don’t believe he had any meetings here, certainly, but – and I can’t speak to visa records. It’s a privacy consideration, so I don’t have much detail I can share with you regarding whether he received a visa to come here.”
The State Department has also apparently classified Ahrar al-Sham a group that was “not among US-designated terrorist groups.” A video interview with State Department spokesperson with John Kirby can be viewed below: